Mitral regurgitation (MR) involves systolic retrograde flow from the left ventricle into the left atrium. While trivial MR is frequent in healthy subjects, moderate to severe MR constitutes the second most prevalent valve disease after aortic valve stenosis. Major causes of severe MR in Western countries include degenerative valve disease (myxomatous disease, flail leaflet, annular calcification) and ischaemic heart disease, while rheumatic disease remains a major cause of MR in developing countries. Chronic MR typically progresses insidiously over many years. Once established, however, severe MR portends a poor prognosis. The severity of MR can be assessed by various techniques, Doppler echocardiography being the most widely used. Mitral valve surgery is the only treatment of proven efficacy. It alleviates clinical symptoms and prevents ventricular dilatation and heart failure (or, at least, it attenuates further progression of these abnormalities). Valve repair significantly improves clinical outcomes compared with valve replacement, reducing mortality by approximately 70%. Reverse LV remodelling after valve repair occurs in half of patients with functional MR. Percutaneous, catheter-based to mitral valve repair is a novel approach currently under clinical scrutiny, with encouraging preliminary results. This modality may provide a valuable alternative to mitral valve surgery, especially in critically ill patients.